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tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  March 11, 2011 6:00am-7:00am EST

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>> rose: welcome to our program. congressman peter king, chairman of the homeland security committee, had hearings in washington today. the title of the hearings was "the extent of radicalism in the american muslim community and that community's response." we'll hear from one of the people who testified, a muslim member of congress keith ellison. >> before we jump to a conclusion around who a muslim is or what a muslim does, we should first of all say is this person a human being, a fellow american who cares about our country the way all of us do and should. >> rose: we conclude this evening with a visit from the actors and the writer of the play "driving miss daisy." they are vanessa redgrave, james
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earl jones, boyd gains and the playwright alfred yuri. >> my husband taught me how to run a car. i still remember everything he said so dent you just even think of... wait i see it. you're speeding. >> we ain't going over 19 miles an hour. >> i like to go under the speed limit. >> speed limit's 35 here. >> congressional hearings and "driving miss daisy" when we continue. every story needs a hero we can all root for. who beats the odds and comes out on top. but this isn't just a hollywood storyline. it's happening every day, all across america. every time a storefront opens. or the midnight oil is burned. or when someone chases a dream, not just a dollar. they are small business owners. so if you wanna root for a real hero, support small business. shop small.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin with congressman peter king's hearings in washington. king, the new york republican and house homeland security committee chairman began the day by defending his inquiry and vowing to go on. >> let me make it clear today that i remain convinced that these hearings must go forward and they will. to back down would be a craven
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surrender to political correctness and an abdication of what i believe should be the main responsibility of this committee: to protect america from a terrorist attack. despite what passes for conventional wisdom in certain circles, there's nothing radical or un-american in holding these hearings. indeed, congressional investigation of muslim american radicalization is the logical response to the repeated and urgent warnings which the obama administration has been making in recent months. >> rose: seven witnesses testified during more than four hours of testimony. the most dramatic moment came when minnesota congressman peet ellison, who is muslim, testified. he told the story of a 23-year-old muslim first responder who died in the 9/11 attacks. >> muhammad hamdani was a fellow american who gave his life for other americans.
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his life should not be identified as just a member of an ethnic group or religion. but as an american who gave you everything for his fellow americans. >> some legislators questions whether the hears will alienate muslims. >> we live in troubling times. i learned today's hears will stoke a climate of fear and distrust in the muslim community. it may also increase the fear and distrust of the muslim community for cooperation for law enforcement officials outreach and cooperation may become more difficult as we continue the possible domestic affects of our actions, we must also consider the possible affects abroad. i cannot but wonder how propaganda about this hearing focusing on the american muslime who seek to inspire a new generation of suicide bombers. >> reporter: others testified about the danger they see in their communities.
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>> there may be other types of violent extremism, but that cannot be solved by non-muslims. so we can close our eyes and pretend it doesn't exist, we can call everybody a bigot or an islam phone as to even talk about it but you're not going to solve the problem and the problem is increasing exponentially. what i hope that we can discuss is get beyond this blind concept of violent extremism. it is a final step, but radicalization is a continuum. cooperation is a continuum. i personally never have known a muslim that wouldn't report somebody about to blow something up or commit an act of violence but that's a final step on a continuum of radicalization. >> rose: joining me from washington congressman keith ellison who you heard earlier. i am pleased to have him on this program and i begin with just first the response you had from being there today and what you wanted to say to the committee. >> well, i wanted to share basically three points, one is
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that violent extremism is a dangerous and serious problem and is the business of the committee. two, that going about the investigation of violent extremism by focusing only on one religious group when it's a problem across our society leads to stereotyping, scapegoating and it's ineffective and it's wrong. and then the third point i wanted to make is that positive engagement, working with the community, building relationships based on trust is the most effective way to have people report violent criminal action and build the kind of rapport needed so that people feel comfortable reporting what they know to law enforcement in order to protect the community. so those were the three points i wanted to make. >> rose: do you think there is a risk inherent in these hearings? >> well, i think potential is
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there but the approach that has been taken thus far i think runs a serious risk of scapegoating and stereotyping and just reinforcing people's already opaque and distorted idea of what the muslim community is all about. because of course if you can start with the title of the hearing which is the extent of radicalization in the muslim community and the community's response. this is not a hearing about al qaeda, it's not a hearing about violent extremism, it's a hearing about the muslim community writ large and an association that... with violent extremism which casts blame on the whole community and so i think the approach that chairman king has take season not helpful but i think that if we would have had a hearing where we could have heard from attorney general holder, we could have heard from f.b.i. agents who work on this stuff everyday, we could have heard from community
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leaders who are working on the problem and have important things to say and scholars it could have brought greater light to on the subject. that did not happen. >> rose: but you were aloud to say all these things and you had a chance to express all of these ideas and to make sure that these hearings did not reflect a stereotypical view. >> that's right. and i appreciate peter king for allowing me to testify, he didn't have to, yet he did. i think that is to his credit but yet i still have those objections and hope that if any more hearings are conducted that they're done with an eye toward understanding rather than pushing emotional buttons as the hearing today was. the only law enforcement official was los angeles county sheriff leroy baca who actually
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gave compelling fact-based testimony. >> rose: and what did that say to you, the fact that you said he gave compelling testimony. >> what it said to me is that it took the minority caucus to call the only law enforcement witness. the majority of witnesses were fine individuals, i'm sure, but basically told emotional stories about personal anecdotes that happened to them or their family members. now this is important and needs to be part of our understanding. but if we are going to formulate policy, we need facts, not stereotypes, and not emotional stories about sad things that happen to people. >> rose: have you asked and have other people requested that congressman king have other guests... have other witnesses step forward? >> we've asked repeatedly. as a matter of fact, you know, we asked a number of people, interfaith groups, community
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groups, members of congress said broaden the hearing, don't just focus on one religious group which happens to be a religious minority in america today and the subject of a certain amount of discrimination. broaden the hearings. we asked them to have a fact-based set of witnesses who could really shed light. he declined that request and did it the way he wanted to and unfortunately we had a hearing that was a lot less than it could have been and so i remain concerned about the affect of these hearings though i am grateful that chairman king offered me an opportunity to speak. he didn't have to do it and i'm grateful for it. >> rose: beyond what you said in the testimony, we can't run all of that, but in terms of the television audience you're speaking to now that you want to say to them to understand two things. number one, on the one hand understand radical fundamentalist violence. >> right.
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>> rose: and on the other hand, understand the islamic community. >> one thing i'd like people to understand, particularly about violent extremists, and this is within the muslim context, is that the al qaeda narrative, the al qaeda propaganda is that america is at war with islam. america is not at war with islam. america is not at war with any religion and so doing things, making certain statements that would tend to help them reinforce their narrative is something i think we should avoid. and so having a hearing pointed at the whole muslim community i think is a mistake. so i'd like people to know that. i'd also like people to know that america is a country that where muslims make important contributions every single day. one person i pulled out, who was a victim in 9/11, was mr. muhammed hamdani, 23-year-old young man who was
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killed as he was trying to save his fellow americans and after he gave his life to save fellow americans some people threw rumors and stereotypes around suggesting that because he was a muslim he was implicated with the killers. but he wasn't. and i want people to look at that as a lesson that before we jump to a conclusion around who a muslim is or what a muslim does that we should first of all say is this person a human being, a fellow american who cares about our country the way all of us do and should. so i'd like people to know that. the muslim community needs to be a partner in protecting our country and that if we promote what our essential values are as americans, which is that all men and women are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, if we go by that simple creed we will be able to make full use of
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everybody's talent and protect our country. >> so how would you assess congressman king's opening remarks? >> you know, his opinions, i thought they were a tad defensive and of course i understand why they would be. he has received a high degree of critique for his approach to this particular subject. but, again, you know, i do think chairman king has his perspective. i hope he learns something. and i hope that he will move more toward a fact-base inquiry rather than just trying to hit the emotional jugular. and i think that is something that i hope he takes away from this experience. >> rose: do you think his motivation for doing this is what? >> i think it's mixed. on the one hand, i believe peter king does care about protecting our country. there's no doubt about that in my mind. that is one of his motivations. he's been consistent about this issue. but i also think that, you know,
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it is kind of throwing the red meat to the base and folks who have stereotypes about muslims probably will be quite gratified with hearings of this nature. and there's no doubt that this targeted thing on muslims has gained some traction across the country. i mean, we've had three mosques in depage county illinois have been denied permits. murfreesboro, tennessee as well. the whole thing about park 51 and politicians saying outrageous and unsubstantiated things. so there is a sort of wedge developing here involving the muslim community and i don't think he's immune from that kind of political grasp. but at the same time, i don't want to take away from the fact that he's a sincere person and does care about our country and, after all, his district is in
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very close proximity to the tragedy of 9/11, so i don't want to say that he doesn't care and isn't sincere. i'll simply say that while he is sincere and i'm confident of that, there are some other political benefits he may believe to be had as well. >> what should be said about those who have committed... who may be of islamic faith, have committed terrorist acts? >> that they are criminals, that they must be brought to justice. that they must be tried if they can be obtained and that they need to be given the full extent of what our law allows i am an opponent of the death penalty and i always have been without regard to anybody but i think with that exception i think they should be given the full measure and weight of legal sanction. so that's what i think should happen. these people are fundamentally criminals. these people are dangerous.
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these people have no respect for life. and they need to be investigated and captured, prosecuted and if convicted they need to be punished. >> and what do you think we understand or don't understand about the shaping influences that drive them to do the kinds of acts they do? >> you know, i think that it's important to understand that when... that they tried to exploit and use some of the aesthetics of islamic teaching but that what they're saying is actually a gross and vast distortion. in fact, when they make their arguments, they're political, not religious. take faisal shahzad, for example. when he gave his last remarks at his sentencing hearing in which he receive a life sentence, which he should have received. he said that it's because of u.s. policy with drones in pakistan and yemen that he did what he did. he didn't say that this was an islamic thing, justification, he gave a political justification.
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same thing with anwar al-awlaki who's an american born cleric in yemen who's a terrorist recruiter. he again is a person using a political justification. it's important to point out and people should know that when they try to use and exploit and abuse islam, but their motivations are fundamentally political in nature. the other thing to know about them is that people, even right now across the majority of... across the middle east, much of which is majority muslim countries, people are rejecting what they have to say. the changes in egypt are a stunning rebuke of al qaedaism, and this is something important people need to know. when you look at people marching in the streets in egypt, bahrain yemen, you don't see people calling for a caliphate or more religion or something like that, you see people calling for things that we as americans take for granted everyday, which is a fair trial, a choice in your own
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governance, basic opportunity, economic opportunities, things that we take for granted they are calling for because there's a basic desire in human beings for dignity, respect, and opportunity and that is... those are important things for people to know. >> rose: has the muslim community in your judgment, the leadership for the muslim community, done everything that it should or most of what it should in order to condemn and correct misinformation about the faith? >> the i think... my experience is that the leaders in the muslim community i know are working hard to cooperate with law enforcement, working hard to condemn terrorism and let everyone know that no terrorist will receive any quarter in the muslim community. that's my experience. my experience is, for example, in minneapolis on january 22,
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muslim community leaders and law enforcement leaders and officials came together in a group that attracted well over a hundred people to talk about building trust and sharing and communicating information. that's what i know. what i know is that there have been muslim communities across the country who have reported and given tips to law enforcement when people were speaking terrorist ideology. in fact, of about 120 terrorist plots that have been hatched since 9/11, upwards of 40% have been revealed by people in the muslim community. so i think that the muslim community leadership is trying, there's a long way to go, and i think it has been a success. i think everyone has a lot more to learn and i want to encourage law enforcement to continue their outreach. and i want to encourage muslim leaders to continue their outreach as well. i do believe that if we continue
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to work on it we can arrive at a place where no terrorist will ever think that they can go into the muslim community and find any comfort anywhere. and, again, i just want to say that these people who would commit acts of terrorism are the enemys of the muslim community, not in any shape, form, or fashion friends and i think most muslim leaders know that and are operating accordingly. >> rose: how do you speak to the question of those who commit terrorist acts and say they were inspired by what they heard by some teacher or some cleric in some mosque somewhere? >> that's a good question. you can go on the internet and listen to the words of anwar al-awlaki, born in new mexico... >> rose: an american citizen who lived in yemen, right. >> that's right. and i can assure you, charlie, that if you listen to this guy,
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you will come away with a few conclusions. one, that he is extremely articulate. he is a persuasive speaker and what he is saying is absolutely evil. and so i think that they tried to operate and exploit people's sense of grievance, they want to go to people who are upset about something and may have a grievance weather its predator drone strikes in pakistan or whatever. and then they want to convert that grievance into an evil act and so these are the... this is how these people operate. they prey on the people who are... have a poor understanding, who want to be included in something. and they work these people up to a point where they say well, if you really want to show devotion to your faith, you deal this horrendous act when, in fact, these people are nothing but exploiters. they don't ever volunteer to do
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these evil things, they try to get others to do. but that's why this issue of engagement is important. that's why i think we need to have law enforcement, muslim community working closely together. but i will also submit to you, charlie, that this process of radicalization, violent ral calization, is something that has familiar patterns no matter what the context. i mean, you know, if you have... if it's somebody who is being... some young person being pumped up to go bomb an abortion clinic you know, it's a similar pattern of behavior is probably there in place. somebody pumped up to go do some heinous act, usually you're dealing with people who are weak-minded to begin with and who are in the grasp of somebody who is wants to put them up to something wicked and catastrophic. >> rose: congressman ellison, it's good to have you on this program. i hope we will have you come
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back as we talk more and explore more. one of the important conversations around the world. thank you so much. >> thank you, charlie. and i enjoyed the show. >> rose: thank you. we'll be right back. stay with us. alfred yuri wrote his first play 25 years ago, "driving miss daisy" is the story of an elderly jewish woman and her african american driver in mid-century atlanta. two years later the play was made into a movie and won the academy award for best picture. another 20 years would pass before he would allow his work on broadway. he says there was no point unless it could be done as close to perfectly as possible. now with vanessa redgrave, james earl jones and boyd gaines, perfection may be on the horizon. >> mama, i told you, i'll do all the interviewing, reference checking, paperwork. >> no! now stop running your mouth! i am 72 years old as you so gallantly reminded me and i'm a widow. but unless they rewrote the
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constitution and didn't tell me i still have rights and one of my rights is the right to have who i want, not who you want, in my house. you accept the fact that this is my house, but i do not and absolutely will not have some chauffeur sitting in my kitchen eating my food, running up my phone bill. oh, i hate all that. >> i've got to go home. flourine will be having a fit. >> y'all must have plans tonight. >> we're going to the answerlys for a dinner party. >> i see. >> you see what? >> the ainsleys, i'm sure flourine bought a new dress. it's her idea of heaven on earth isn't it? >> what? >> socializing with episcopalians. (laughter) >> you're a doodle, mama. >> rose: the vast joins me now. vanessa red give as daisy, james earl jones as hoke, boyd gaines
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and daisy's son and playwright alfred yuri who is to be blamed for this little project. he brought it back and he brought them together and i'm especially pleased they've come to this table this evening. welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: so, sir, why did it take you so long? >> well, i will not name names of all the people they said wanted to be in it but i didn't want to see it with most of those people in it. and i thought i don't want to go through this unless i'm excited about it. so i got excited. >> rose: so somebody said "we can get you have necessary, is a we can get you james earl jones, we can get you boyd." >> somebody said james earl wanted to do it. >> rose: ah! you're the blame. >> and i said okay. then they said "vanessa redgrave might be interested." i said okay. and i said see if you can get boyd gaines.
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>> rose: there you go. >> there you go. >> rose: did you automatically say yes or did they have to talk you into it or what? >> they had me at hello. but it's always been in the back of my mind having seen the movie. it's a wonderful film and i loved it so much i wanted to do it myself. >> rose: good for you. you cannot resist a good role. >> oh, that's true. that's true. but they're hard to come by. >> rose: i can't imagine. and you? did they tell you who was involved? >> oh, yes. it's a wonderful role for an actor. i don't want to say too much in front of him, but i'm going to say in the front of him. he is a superb actor and i'm talking about theater. i haven't seen enough of his film work. but i've seen some of his stage work, particularly acting together each night.
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>> rose: and do you discover things about a fellow actor you did not know? >> well, i think trust counts for an awful lot, if you discover that you've got total trust in your fellow actors and they seem to have got total trust in you and you can go anywhere, and i mean that in the best sense of the word. >> rose: trust is crucial. >> well, it's the basis for everything. if you can't trust, you can't release, you can't respond, you can't listen because if you don't trust that means you distrust. you distrust yourself it could be. but if you know your... you're trusted by somebody you start trusting yourself. >> are you different today as an actor on stage in terms of how you approach it than you were when you did "the great white hope?" >> you bet i'm different everyday. >> rose: what causes you to be
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different? >> because i don't try not to be different. all my effort goes into just getting out there and taking the first step. and whatever shape i'm in, either in my head or my heart or my body, that's what goes on. it's a different fellow every night. i can't explain it. one of the most embarrassing things is when you walk on stage and you really connect with another actor. he's the first one i go on stage with. and the other day i tell him how long i've been out of work and he says something to me about "that's a long time." he almost broke my heart. i've never heard that before. and that's scary when you start hearing people say things differently than you... that you've missed before. all those months since opening and i... not hearing that.
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>> rose: "that's a long time." >> yeah, "that's a long time." >> the fluidity with which they perform the show every night is astounding. that there's so much give and take and they constantly have new ideas, new notions. vanessa and james earl both will come up and say "i had an idea, i'm going to try this tonight" but even within that lots of things happen and i think because there's such... they're such incredibly present actors they knew things spontaneously. >> rose: this is kind of a master class for you. (laughter) >> oh, no, no. let me tell you, the best position to be in is... it is to be the worst actor among great actors. >> rose: in the company of gateness is good. >> oh, yeah. because you're always going try to rise to that level. >> with boyd, it was the first time of not being in the states
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and new york all the time and i saw "journey's end" which i thought was a brilliant production, boyd was incredible, so glad i didn't miss journey's end. it was a great play. >> rose: what is your relationship to the characters that were created here? >> it was my family. my grandmother really did drive a car over a hill and demolish a garage didn't break her glasses and she lived in the house with us, she didn't live in a house by herself. and my dad really did hire somebody to drive her and really did say "she can't fire you because i'm paying you." but i changed things around because my grandmother didn't have a son, she only had my mother. so a lot of the stuff that goes on between boyd and vanessa is me and my mother and i just shifted things around from... i thought a lot about atlanta when
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i was growing up there in the '40s and '50s and how it felt. i wasn't trying to make a big statement about this was right and this was wrong. it's just... it was that way and i thought these are... these are people who will doing the best they can given the limits of who they are and what they've got to do it with. and i love them all. >> rose: do you see it differently today than you did when you wrote it? >> oh, yeah. weirdly, of course, it's gotten to be a period piece. >> rose: about race in america or... >> yeah. i... when i wrote it, i did realize that the way that daisy and hoke's relationship changed over the course of the years was sort of the way atlanta changed over the course of the years. it started here and kind of ended up almost touching but not enough and i just wrote pretty much what happened only moved
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around a bit and boolie... i have four daughters and i wrote for something that i wanted to have and you're it. >> rose: how old were you when you received the pulitzer prize. >> i was 14. (laughter) >> rose: no, you weren't, but were you in your 20s? (laughter) >> no, i think i was 50. although i'm only 51 now. (laughter) i was not a child. >> rose: you were not a child. >> no, it was remarkable and watching the trajectory of "the king's speech" the film, our film, had that same kind of trajectory. a little bitty thing that exploded and the thing that surprised me is that having it done now it's a whole different experience, seeing these three do it. >> rose: how is it different? >> because like they say, they
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play it their way. i no longer... i'm far enough away from it where i can't see my grandmother, i can't see the real people anymore because i remember it so well. and i haven't seen the film in a long time but what they do if it is... it's their own way of doing it. i like to write in a way that i don't make a lot of decision. i respect actors and i like them... i like to write things that actors can mess around with and... >> rose: do they take it places unexpected for you? >> absolutely. and they change. they change. they don't change any line bus they change. i think their alchemists of some sort. i don't care what they do. they turn into other people and they don't look like themselves. it's kind of eerie. >> rose: did you see the movie? >> uh-huh. >> rose: did you like it? >> uh-huh. oh, yeah. >> rose: because? >> i made... talked about that
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story every year of my life. and i won't brag that "there go my people." >> rose: but you had an issue with stuttering. >> yeah, that's what i mean. i always denied that connection. i don't want to be the stutterer's spokesperson. i have no answers to how you work with it or what's around it. but i just watched them do, how they worked around it. >> rose: and you said "there go my people?" >> there go my people. but, you know what... some plays are great because they're just rich with language. language has explosive ideas that just come alive on the stage. alfred gave us a play that serves... i don't know how to say it without sounding like i'm demeaning, i'm reducing it. lean and sinew. not lean and... in its essence
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but it's muscular. there's no fat on it. so whatever word he gives you, if it's a casual sound the character makes yasum. that's very... you've got to grab ahold of that. the actor has to take what he gives you and try to make as clear as you can what that mean >> rose: you sense the same preciseness, vanessa? >> yes, i do. i guess very much specific to alfred of thinking other plays or playwrights. it's... with a really... and i do think this is a great play i do. and comparison is odious but it is greatly written and with a
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greatly written play you discover continually how within the apparent simplicity which i love about our production actually, with apparent simplicity, mus scholar is a good word. straightforwardness, there's a whole different perspective saying "have you thought of this? have you thought of that? why does he say that?" all the questions we actors have to ask ourselves. i've become useless in speech because i know what we do it's hard to sometimes explain. but the writer has a source, whatever the source is, alfred explained it and i don't know,
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you in this building, charlie, you may know the most modern technological word for fiber optic because i know there's way beyond fiber optic. >> rose: that's an important carrier of data. >> we have a kind of fiber optics. we can pick up what's there. we may not, but that's what we actually are and if it's muddied if it's obscured, if there's some elements of ego or untruth in it, it won't convey, you can't pick it up. it's a greatly written play if you can be open to it and lucky enough to be open to it, yup'ik up a world that actually was there and you can pick it up with all its nuances if you're lucky enough. >> and is it relevant today to race snowed >> unfortunately, it's more
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relevant than i would want it to be because i think there's still a gulf between the races. not so big anymore, but there. and i think it is relevant that we are often judged not by who we are but what we are. je are jews and blacks are blacks and gays are gays and muslims are muslims and on and on. and i think it's important to be able to get under that i just have to pick up on what vanessa said because i think what helped me a lot in this play was again knowing those people and knowing that i was telling... that i could defend what they said, i could defend what they said and why they said it if i was asked. and i think a lot of plays run into trouble when people just write and then you get great actors to pick up everything and if an actress says to you "why am i saying that?" i think you better damn well be able to answer it.
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and i can do it with this play. i can't always do it, but i can do it with this one. >> rose: in this kind of story, is the playwright's genius not in terms of the story-- because you knew the story-- the playwright's genius is the language. >> it occurred to me that, yeah, they did this and this is the way they would talk. i don't know... >> rose: but it was because you had an ear. >> yeah, i got a good ear and i'm southern and i can remember all that stuff. and all the yassums which look scary on the paper to a lot of people. but james earl says yassum about 50 times or more. >> you have said that this play leeches out racism. >> it leeches out more than just the act of hatred between people. i was raised by a grandmother who hated white people more than anythingers ever hated black people. she also hated indians because she was part indian, cherokee
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choctaw tow. she hated black people for allowing it to happen. she had a lot of people she didn't like and she begged and begged us and said to us children and grandchildren that bigotry. and i had to unlearn it when i got going to school up north in michigan. and that was probably the best thing she gave me, her view of the world. because i knew it was wrong. >> rose: did you unlearn it by reading or did you unlearn it by experience. >> oh, the experience. reading couldn't have helped. reading would have just confused me. reading great books about it would have confused me. tin bihad some stuff about it. in this play when miss daisy is finally... willing to reach across that chasm that has baffled her all her life,
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perhaps on a social level and go to see martin luther king's speech, she says to me "he's wonderful." all i say is "yassum." and i say it hoping it will end this conversation. i don't know who martin luther king martin luther, martin has his problems and i got mine. mine is to stay alive, to keep earning a little money so i can get more of my kids and grand kids into college. it's not that he doesn't like martin luther king, he doesn't dislike many people at all, but he got nothing to do with martin's business. i mean, this is hoke. this is the way i'm beginning to see him. i didn't see many people that clearly. my grandfather, perhaps, who did not hate people the way his wife hated. i don't know how he got around that, really. because he was a very fair man. he taught me more about justice
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by not hating people than i'll ever learn from any law book. >> rose: and hoke... every question was my focus is to get my kids so they have a better life than i did. >> yes. he gave up on ever learning to read so she gets at him in the cemetery and says "you can. don't leave here saying you can't because you can." and this is a woman dedicated to that art, the art of teaching. >> rose: yes, indeed. >> that's when i started falling in love with her. >> rose: with this person. >> well, this person and the person she plays. >> rose: you're not the first british actor to play this role. joan plow right played it, wendy hiller played it. >> there was going to be a television series and there was one shot... the pilot and joan was the miss daisy and bob
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guillaume was the hoke and it was something i didn't want to do to begin with but richard zahn neck had been so wonderful to me that he really wanted me to do it and i knew it was... it didn't feel right but i did it and it wouldn't have worked. nobody ever saw it but... >> rose: how do you view the film versus the play? >> well, the film has about half the dialogue. >> rose: right. >> because the camera's right up in their face and jessica and morgan are very good at making faces. >> (laughs) >> they can twitch one muscle and so there was a lot of dialogue that wasn't necessary and also i... the rule i made for myself was i'm only going write about what's mentioned in the play. like the trip and her going somewhere on the trolley, she says she's going to go somewhere and i put in boolie's wife and i
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put in the cook, but i didn't want to expand it too much and put in... so i had my own rules but it's a very different feeling, it's very... it's even more fluid... it's a fluid play but it's a more fluid film and it's actually on the streets with actual cars and so it's again a different experience. >> i think a lot about education in our play partly because education is in my family background. but mostly because of what james just said about what hoke wants, to get his kids into college. and the first time miss daisy gets angry with hoke is when she wants him to know that her sister saved up money so she, daisy, could go to college and be a teacher. now, that's been her... that was
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way, way back in the 1905, that was what she wanted. my great, great aunt is one of the first women who went to college and they were all derided, of course, by the men, by society, by the media, etc. but they went and they changed things and miss daisy, in her own little way... this isn't what the play is about, of course, but it really interests me that hoke, as jim was saying, we meet on... for a moment on the question of in our minds of the question of reading. it's a fantastic scene. i love it. and i don't think miss daisy sort of exactly knows... she sure knows how to make sound and
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the simple clarity of this is what you need to know, you actually know it but you just don't think you know it, which is pretty damn brilliant, i think. what do you think, boyd? >> yes. >> i'm so engrossed in this question of teaching. and then one day alfred said how she, miss daisy, in her original living she liked dictionaries, a dictionary is one of your means of learning. anyway, i'm... i think that's really important because at the beginning of the last century everybody wanted that more than anything for their kids. now what's going to happen, charlie, to the kids of today whenever mayor and every governor you can see anywhere in the media is destroying the state public schools and the
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teachers. what is happening? >> all these people out here, teachers in this country. it's the difference between a banker and a lawyer and teacher? it always seems... >> rose: if, in fact, you talk about compensation as a measure of how much you appreciate... >> yes, i'm talking about why people don't go into teaching profession as opposed to... >> rose: what's the relationship between son and mother. >> well, vanessa and i... >> that's a very interesting question! >> it, too, changes on a... we've had a lot of notions. flourine enters heavily into the mix. we kept saying... as we started rehearsing, we had... we started having a lot of fun where i'm forever trying to embrace her, hug her, give her a little kiss. just give her some mother/son affection but she's not having any of it.
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and so we finally came to-- and correct me if you disagree, vanessa, to this understanding-- that things have been quite warm before flourine. so once flourine appeared on the horizon then mother got a little stingy with her affection and she's been mad at me ever since. and, in fact, it's not until she's in the nursing home that i'm allowed to because she can't fight back. but i think the understanding is that we love each other. >> but the interesting thing about flourine... i mean, i'm not speaking like miss daisy, because miss daisy feels quite differently. the interesting thing, though, about flourine seems to me that flourine is trying to get her husband, my son away from his jewish roots. >> assimilation. >> she's determined to get him away. she wants to be totally in the
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top gear of the... the class as well as faith and religion so they're all mixed up there. but she wants to get him away from her and something in miss daisy only goads to temple because everybody goes to temple of course you go to temple. and of course i have my son buried in the jewish section of the graveyard, of course. but to have this wretch which he had woman and to have him loving this retch which he had woman, he's a slave to this wretch which he had woman who's trying to get him away from his jewish roots and it's very noticeable in the play to me as vanessa and as miss daisy that this woman is going to be the wreck of my son and i want to make it quite clear to my son that this is a no-go area just in case he could
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dictate a little bit to madam flourine. >> rose: what does it mean to you vashgs necessary a, to go on stage every night to have a chance to inhabit a character that is interesting in a language that is brilliantly written? >> well, i'm glad that i remain extremely nervous before with some exceptions. and excited. probably more than excited with this play than i have been for a long while because there's something in this play la that lifts you. you're not dragged into a hole like eugene o'neal drags you in. and it's a mighty important hole but it's a major hell to be in that hole and i... i'm not comparing plays, i'm just saying to do four hours "long day's journey into night" no actor is going to be thrilled every moment that they step on the stage.
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it's... you know, ask boyd, ask jim. there's a great comradeship, there's only three of us but we've got our stage management, we've got our crew and lighting and sound and we all bond together so that's a lift and the here is challenge of playing with each other but playing with each other... we're each other's... not me and jim and me and boyd, we are, but we're also not, we're trying to... i'm trying to listen and i think i didn't used to listen as much. and it's wonderful to be acting with boyd and jim. >> why do you listen more now? >> i think perhaps... i don't know if it, i'm hazarding a guess, because i've discovered there's a lot more to people than meets the eye.
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>> rose: maybe they have something to say. >> yeah. but also the theme is a compelling theme and while these spirals of history don't exactly repeat and there are differences that are profound. >> rose: would all of you rather been on stage than making film? you've won four tony awards as i remember. >> i can't get hired in the movies so.... >> rose: why would that be? i can't imagine. >> i've never found a... james earl and i have talked about this. these are two brilliant film actors and i... don't make that face. i've never found the relaxation... i tend to get hired at the last minute so usually go on and do film and especially television your
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concern is please, god, don't let me be the one that doesn't remember the wordstor blocking and you don't get into a state of relaxation that really allows you to play and that's the great thing about the stage and particularly the great thing about getting to do... a wonderful piece of material for a long time is that it evolves. it changes. we say that's different. and i think, yeah, i guess it is. >> i can't say what. >> but we come off and go "oh, wasn't that fun tonight?" the thing i love about these two is nothing seems to be precious in the sense of, wow, i love that laugh i'm getting, ooh, i didn't get it tonight, i wonder why. it's none of that. it's like, oh, that was great. and the next night it's something... >> rose: but there's no dissection of what happened. >> well, vanessa... with our first scene, the end of our first scene they're both so musical with the language... i'm
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getting off the subject but they're both so beautiful with the language and vanessa said there's something wrong in the music, we're rhythmicly off. >> we both felt it. >> we both kept saying there's something... james earl goes "something's not right, i'm doing something wrong" and he'll change it. so, yeah, it isn't dissected like, oh, i... >> but i tell you something else since we're talking about film and theater. when we come out at night there's so many people very young and very old how they afford our tickets i don't know. but they have come and they paid and they're just... and you talk with them and they talk with us and you know that the one thing you hope is... as an actor and
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i'm sure as a play wright that our something special has happened for them. i won't go into the details. ing? special has happened for them and that's why they came and so many of them are saying my first visit to new york and i chose this play before any other and you look at them and they're not disappointed. and they haven't come to just get a scribble on the program, they've come because it's... it's what the play is about. because jim's in it and they feel when jim's there there's going to be something special and, of course, the reputation of the play which is immense. >> and you have nothing to do with that. >> rose: no! >> they don't even know who you are. (laughter) >> rose: thank you all. a pleasure to have you here.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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